An industry association representing large employers urged the Department of Labor last week to make a technology change that would improve communications between employers that sponsor health and retirement plans and beneficiaries.

In a letter to Secretary Alexander Acosta, the ERISA Industry Committee asks the labor department to “allow plan sponsors to automatically default to electronic delivery of statements to plan participants, rather than requiring them to be mailed (unless requested by the plan participant).”

Alexander Acosta. Department of Labor Secretary
Alexander Acosta. Department of Labor Secretary

“Inertia is on the side of default,” says ERIC’s Will Hansen, senior VP of retirement and compensation policy. “It’s already so costly to operate a plan.” ERIC is a national association that advocates for large employers on health, retirement and compensation public policies.

See also: Plan sponsors looking for benefits guidance from advisers

Under the current guidance, the labor department requires mailed disclosures, which many agree places a burden on plan sponsors and individuals, who are then required to pay plan fees to offset those costs.

“Plan sponsors also have the option to charge,” Hansen says. “That’s their right.”

While ERIC does not have a cost estimate for the proposed electronic disclosure process, Hansen says one disclosure for a large plan can be in the six figures.

“It just depends on the size of the plan as well as the overall communication structure for each plan,” he says.

However, he says, if the current administration is “looking for an easy victory in the retirement space, this is an easy one to pick up and run with.”

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